When I look back, it makes me giggle and roll my eyes at the same time to think of it… gratitude was my chosen word of the year for 2020. Who knew?! I selected this theme not because I thought it would be super easy, but to challenge and deepen my appreciation for the challenges in life and my spiritual practice. Changing from rote to growth. Little did I know how this theme would evolve over the course of 525,600 minutes?
March 13, 2020, was followed by two months of clients saying they no longer had a need for our services and cancelling the remaining meetings on the calendar for the year. Grateful for the need to lay off employees in the second quarter? Nope. Grateful for almost no income past May? Definitely not. Grateful for being denied multiple times for unemployment and PPP assistance with no reason given for the denials? Don’t get me started does not even begin to crack the door open of my sentiments on this subject. There was anger rearing its ugly head.
In the midst of the unfolding months, I learned a few lessons and harnessed new powers because of 2020 that a constant and flowing gratitude does not amount to a drop of the overflowing graciousness felt. I have my friends (albeit a few less this year), family (closer than ever), safety, a cute little house, a car and pets I love and love to spoil, including a particular coonhound that teaches me daily through her reflection back to me of persistence, hardheadedness, compassion and pure love.
Amid anger at various entities – governments here and abroad, communities near and far, and the sheer selfishness of some humans – the tail wagged the dog amidst its constant chasing in circles of its posterior – I made a few commitments that will stay with me.
Staying connected is as important as ever! Reach out to someone everyday who is not in the regular and common communication cycle, through a card in the mail, a phone call or text.
Read one book a week.
Eat protein every day! Sounds simple but it can be a struggle for me! Health, ya’ll!
When hard feelings arise, acknowledge them, sit with them if needed, and then move on. As Glennon Doyle so brilliantly says, “I can do hard things.”
Do something for each of your basic growth centers daily — heart, health, hand…Something that makes you feel good (such as eating a cookie or three), taking a walk after eating those cookies, and texting a friend or calling someone special.
The most important lessons from the pandemic time at home, though, involve time and health.
- I will no longer work six days a week for years on end (unless on show site!). Learning to take time for myself, whether it be housework, a massage or time with friends, the lesson has been a long and hard one for me.
- Mental breaks — In partnership with item one above. The mental and the physical are partners more intertwined than we likely have yet to discover.
- A new balance… the income is less, but so is the stress, and happiness is felt so much more often. Even regularly, I dare say. I will no longer say yes to projects that do not bring me joy or work with clients who are not true partners, unethical or worse.
- Clean it out! I take a little time twice a year to make sure the network files are clean and appropriately labeled, the social media accounts are filled with those who should be there, and the other peripheral memberships and auto-pays are up-to-date and used as they should be. Personal and professional accounts!
- Time re-evaluation — As an overly organized empath, I have been living by my calendar and rote schedules for years. But now, I have stopped attending networking groups that are not my target audience just because I like the leader or want to support the organization. There are better ways to support while still allowing for a higher level of fulfillment for me and provides better service to colleagues I want to support.
That sums it up for me. Gratitude replaces anger. You can’t have both at the same moment. Grateful is not dependent on a specific circumstance but on the attitude and the learning opportunities afforded. No matter what life throws at you. it took a pandemic for me to learn some very challenging life lessons. What did you learn or gain during this time? I wish you kindness. Now I must go have another cookie.
I’ll leave you with this thought from the actor Will Arnett, “I am happy because I’m grateful. I choose to be grateful. That gratitude allows me to be happy.”
About Cori Dossett
Cori Dossett, CEM, CMP, CITP, is the President of Conferences Designed, a full-service meeting planning firm. Cori has had multiple articles on the meetings industry published since 2001. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.